Texas secessionists ecstatic . . . over what, they don’t know

November 30, 2012

Not sure how I got on the mailing list, but I’ll take it.

Texas bugs out on the U.S., by Paul Windle

Graphic for the New York Times, by Paul Windle

To those who commented here that the Texas secessionists are joking, and the petition means nothing at all, please note the e-mail I got today from Roxanna M.  Roxanna is the thoughtful person behind the petition AGAINST the Texas secession petition.  Heed what she says:

Hey friends!

I want to thank each of you again!  I’ve received so many emails, and I am going to be getting back to everyone, but I work two jobs so it will take me a bit.  But thank you all for your interest and your support.  It’s amazing.  There are a couple people, though, that have sent emails calling me some not-so-nice names.  I will not be responding to you, aside from this.  Thanks for being engaged and interested enough to respond, though.

I have had quite a few requests about how many signatures we have so far.  As of today this petition has 13,011 signatures. [Emphasis added here] I think we’re off to a pretty good start!  This is my first petition, so I am open to any suggestions or ideas any of you have.

I checked the “We the People” petition the day I sent out the other email, and yes, at that time the number was 117,889.  I checked it twice.  The number at that time was accurate.  It may be more now.  Unfortunately, my roommate also sends me random text messages when they get more signatures on the petition.  He was very excited when they hit 100,000.

Here’s where you can find the petition to secede:
https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/peacefully-grant-state-texas-withdraw-united-states-america-and-create-its-own-new-government/BmdWCP8B

It’s actually at 118,203 as of today.

I honestly have no idea how they plan on Texas to go it alone.  There’s a lot of boasting about the our economy and how it’s the best, but I haven’t seen or heard a concrete plan as of yet.  I have heard hints that if Texas isn’t granted a peaceful secession then this could end up another Civil War.  I certainly hope not, and tend to ignore those comments, but things like that are being said.

I do not have a Facebook page for the petition.  I have posted links on Facebook, like on Formidable Republican Opposition’s page.  If anyone wants to start one, feel free!  Just let me know and I’ll send out an email with the link.  I’ve gone to a couple forums for Texas Democrats/Independents and posted links as well.  But, like I said, I’m new at this, and I work two jobs, so if any of you have ideas I’m happy to hear them.

I know that I made some grammar mistakes in the petition, and I apologize.  Unfortunately, once someone signed it (besides me), it wouldn’t let me revise it.  So yeah.  We’ll make do, hopefully.

For those of you who would like to read a bit on the secession petition:

Star-Telegram article
http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/11/20/4429851/a-peaceful-texas-secession-would.html

Examiner article with links of sites supporting Texas secession:
http://www.examiner.com/article/texas-secession-petition-response-white-house-deadline-nears-1

Any other questions, comments, concerns, just let me know.  You all are absolutely fantastic!  Thanks so much! [Note this is the petition AGAINST secession.]
http://signon.org/sign/texans-against-secession?mailing_id=7220&source=s.icn.em.cr&r_by=6253019

Many of those who signed and advocate Texas secession appear to lack an idea of scale, as well as any idea about how government works in a constitutional federal republic.

118,000 signatures from Texas?  Wholly apart from the not-really-joking suggestion that at least 50,000 of those come from Oklahoma, that’s less than the population of rural-to-suburban, southern Dallas County.  Duncanville, Desoto, Cedar Hill, and Lancaster, and all the unincorporated nodules at sea in the area, can’t get Dallas County to pay much attention to them, let alone Texas, let alone the U.S. Congress to consider letting such a tiny group secede.  Compare the 118,000 with more than 3 million Texans who voted for Obama, consider the most of the more-than 3 million who voted for Romney and consider themselves proud citizens of the U.S. who would never consider secession, and at least ten million other Texans who think secession is a stupid idea, and you get a clue as to how inconsequential 118,000 people can be.

Please consider the facts; as John Mashey suggests, and as Roxanna warns, let the secessionists make their case, and tally the costs and benefits.  It’s not a pleasant tally:

  • Gov. Rick Perry opposes the idea, dismisses it as silly and says to move on — he’s otherwise a rather randyesque maverick who loves to slam the federal government if it’ll get him a few votes or a case of beer, or a favor from a businessman.  Truth be told, Perry still thinks he can be president of the U.S., which would be impossible were Texas to secede, and even unlikely were secessionists to get any traction from the state government.
  • On straight up accounting, federal income taxes versus direct aid from the federal government to Texas, Texas is modestly a payer rather than a taker of federal largesse.  However, that accounting does not include the several Air Force Bases, Navy installations, major Army and Marine facilities, Houston’s NASA Control Center, and other federal establishments in the state.  Texas pays almost nothing for border protection, for example, while it costs billions just along the Texas-Mexico border; Texas cannot protect its own borders without the U.S.  Texas is an economic shell waiting to collapse, without the U.S.  That does not account for the several dozens of Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Texas, who would have to move out, to stay domestic corporations.  This includes Exxon-Mobil, AT&T, Frito Lay, and dozens of others.
  • If anyone in the Texas Lege thinks it’s a good idea, they’ve got the good sense to keep quiet about it.  Texas needs federal money to balance its budget, and the Texas Constitution requires a balanced budget.  As a nation, Texas would have to borrow big time, probably spend into deficits (as responsible nations do from time to time) — that is not a popular idea among Texas conservatives, who would be the most likely supporters of secession.
  • With no one in the state government supporting the idea, 117,000 signatures on a petition is about the number of Texans Rick Perry snubs his nose at on a daily basis.  The Great State of Texas is not a signatory to any secession idea.  Congress won’t agree anyway, but especially Congress won’t act contrary to the State of Texas’s wishes.
  • While the First Amendment specifically protects American citizens’ right to petition for redress of grievances, there is no process set by which that is done on such issues, really.  Notice this petition is really just a letter of suggestion to the President, and not any requirement for any action.  Obama likes to listen to citizens (no comment on previous people holding his position, of course); this “We the People” process is a public outreach effort by the Obama administration.  Their promise is, if there is a serious issue, they’ll work to answer questions.  The informal process is, on any issue, serious or not, they’ll answer if there are more than 25,000 people who ask (“sign the petition”).  By gathering 117,000 signatures, those people have earned the right, under Obama’s magnanimity, for a letter.  That letter will probably say, “Sorry you’re disappointed, but we will continue to be the united states, in the United States of America.”
  • Were it a petition to Congress, there is still no requirement for any action. The Constitution forbade Congress from even discussing action against slavery for 20 years after the document became effective, Article II Section 9.  During that time, thousands of Americans petitioned Congress to end slavery.  Congress noted the receipt of those petitions somewhere, and did nothing.  After 1808, Congress received thousands of other petitions, and while taking note of them, rarely did anything about them.  We have a right to petition the government for redress of grievances, and that prevents us from being thrown into jail for pointing out the government is screwing up.  But that right ends with the petition.  There is no right of any response, nor are such petitions considered demands that government actually act.  Secessionists seem almost giddy that if they get a bunch of signatures, secession is a reality.  That’s some potent moonshine, but it’s no more than moonshine talking.

John Mashey suggested in another thread that secessionists should start running the numbers now.  They might learn from people who wanted the Iron Curtain to fall, for more than 40 years.  They seriously thought about how to fix things, and in much of Eastern Europe, once the oppressive communist regimes fell, serious people stepped up to make serious reforms in government, and some good stuff resulted — see the Czech Republic, Germany’s reunification, the economic boom and increased liberty in Poland, and the great increase in business in Estonia, for examples.  In sharp contrast, the Muslim Brotherhood complained about Egypt’s government for 50 years.  But when that government fell (not much thanks to the Muslim Brotherhood), it turned out they had not thought about how to actually run a nation; after more than a shaky year and a questionable election, the government is still wracked by demonstrations by nominal allies of the government, asking reforms of actions the former Muslim Brotherhood member President Morsi has already taken.

For good government to work, first, government must work.  Texas secessionists have not even thought through a secession process, let alone how to make things work afterward.

But Roxanna notes secessionists have given little thought to any serious next step, even of just getting a letter from President Obama.  Roxanna hasn’t seen any analysis, nor has anyone else.

Take Mashey’s suggestion, secessionists, and start running the numbers.  It will help you avoid disappointment soon, in the near-future, and perhaps for the rest of your life.

Yesterday Kathryn and I toured the National Memorial in Oklahoma City.  It is a grim, curt and hard reminder that political discontent can drive malcontents to horrific action.  Secessionists need to rein in their rabid nationalism before it destroys their patriotism.  Timothy McVeigh had a plan to try to cut things asunder, but nothing else other than ill-intent.

More: 


Cliffhanger avoidance, from Robert Reich

November 30, 2012

Economist/policy wonk/good guy Robert Reich sends along notes on the discussions in Washington (at his Facebook site, and at his personal site) (links added here for your benefit and ease of use):

Robert Reich

Rhodes Scholar, former Secretary of Labor and UC Berkeley Prof. Robert Reich

Apparently the bidding began this afternoon. According to the Wall Street Journal (which got the information from GOP leaders), Tim Geithner met with Republican leaders and made the following offer:

— $1.6 trillion in additional tax revenues over the next decade, from limiting tax deductions on the wealthy and raising tax rates on incomes over $250,000 (although those rates don’t have to rise as high as the top marginal rates under Bill Clinton)

— $50 billion in added economic stimulus next year

— A one-year postponement of pending spending cuts in defense and domestic programs

— $400 billion in savings over the decade from Medicare and other entitlement programs (the same number contained in the President’s 2013 budget proposal, submitted before the election).

— Authority to raise the debt limit without congressional approval.

The $50 billion in added stimulus is surely welcome. We need more spending in the short term in order to keep the recovery going, particularly in light of economic contractions in Europe and Japan, and slowdowns in China and India.

But by signaling its willingness not to raise top rates as high as they were under Clinton and to cut some $400 billion from projected increases in Medicare and other entitlement spending, the White House has ceded important ground.

Republicans obviously want much, much more.

The administration has taken a “step backward, moving away from consensus and significantly closer to the cliff, delaying again the real, balanced solution that this crisis requires,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) in a written statement. “No substantive progress has been made” added House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio).

No surprise. The GOP doesn’t want to show any flexibility. Boehner and McConnell will hang tough until the end. Boehner will blame his right flank for not giving him any leeway — just as he’s done before.

It’s also clear Republicans will seek whatever bargaining leverage they can get from threatening to block an increase in the debt limit – which will have to rise early next year if the nation’s full faith and credit is to remain intact.

Meanwhile, the White House has started the bidding with substantial concessions on tax increases and spending cuts.

Haven’t we been here before? It’s as if the election never occurred – as if the Republicans hadn’t lost six or seven seats in the House and three in the Senate, as if Obama hadn’t won reelection by a greater number of votes than George W. Bush in 2004.

And as if the fiscal cliff that automatically terminates the Bush tax cuts weren’t just weeks away.

But if it’s really going to be a repeat of the last round, we might still be in luck. Remember, the last round resulted in no agreement. And no agreement now may be better than a bad agreement that doesn’t raise taxes on the wealthy nearly enough while cutting far too much from safety nets most Americans depend on.

If Republicans won’t budge and we head over the fiscal cliff, the Clinton tax rates become effective January 1 – thereby empowering the White House and Democrats in the next congress to get a far better deal.

Watch that space.

It’s especially interesting to me how House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) will work to get a solution, if the GOP continues its blockade to almost all action.

More:


Birthday of Twain and Churchill: Happy Whiskey and Cigar Day 2012!

November 30, 2012

Mark Twain, afloat

Mark Twain aboard a ship, somewhere. Place and photographer unknown (at least to MFB). Young Samuel Clemens apprenticed to be a Mississippi river boat pilot, and held a fascination for water-going vessels his entire life. His pilot years are documented, and analyzed, in Life on the Mississippi.

November 30 is the birthday of Mark Twain (1835), and Winston Churchill (1874).

In 2012, we have the benefit of having had a couple of years to digest Twain’s Autobiography, and we have the benefit of new scholarship and a major new book on Churchill, William Manchester’s and Paul Reid’s The Last Lion.

Twain had a comment on the Texas Education Agency and State Board of Education:

In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made School Boards.

- Following the Equator; Pudd’nhead Wilson‘s New Calendar

The Nobel literature committees were slow; Twain did not win a Nobel in Literature; he died in 1910. Churchill did win, in 1953.

Both men were aficionados of good whiskey and good cigars. Both men suffered from depression in old age.

Both men made a living writing, early in their careers as newspaper correspondents. One waged wars of a kind the other campaigned against. Both were sustained by their hope for the human race, against overwhelming evidence that such hope was sadly misplaced.

churchill-time-cover-man-of-the-year-1941.jpg

Winston S. Churchill, Time Magazine’s Man of the Year for 1941, copyright 1941 by Time Magazine. Churchill’s career was built much on his work as First Lord of the Admiralty, a position he took in 1911.  While he was the goat of the Battle of the Dardanelles (and had to resign as a result), his earlier work to switch Britain’s Navy to oil power from coal, and to use airplanes in combat, kept the British Navy as an important and modern military organization through World War II.

Both endured fantastic failures that would have killed other people, and both rebounded.

Each possessed a great facility with words, and wit, and frequently said or wrote things that people like to remember and repeat again.

Both of them rank near the top of the list of people to whom almost any quote will be attributed if the quote is witty and the speaker can’t remember, or doesn’t know, who actually said it.

Both men are worth study. And wouldn’t you really love to have had them over to dinner?

Twain, on prisons versus education:

Every time you stop a school, you will have to build a jail. What you gain at one end you lose at the other. It’s like feeding a dog on his own tail. It won’t fatten the dog.” – Speech, November 23, 1900

Churchill on the evil men and nations do:

“No One Would Do Such Things”

“So now the Admiralty wireless whispers through the ether to the tall masts of ships, and captains pace their decks absorbed in thought. It is nothing. It is less than nothing. It is too foolish, too fantastic to be thought of in the twentieth century. Or is it fire and murder leaping out of the darkness at our throats, torpedoes ripping the bellies of half-awakened ships, a sunrise on a vanished naval supremacy, and an island well-guarded hitherto, at last defenceless? No, it is nothing. No one would do such things. Civilization has climbed above such perils. The interdependence of nations in trade and traffic, the sense of public law, the Hague Convention, Liberal principles, the Labour Party, high finance, Christian charity, common sense have rendered such nightmares impossible. Are you quite sure? It would be a pity to be wrong. Such a mistake could only be made once—once for all.”

—1923, recalling the possibility of war between France and Germany after the Agadir Crisis of 1911, in The World Crisis,vol. 1, 1911-1914, pp. 48-49. (Obviously, and sadly, Churchill was wrong — twice wrong.)

Image of Twain aboard ship – origin unknown. Image of Winston S. Churchill, Time Magazine’s Man of the Year for 1941, copyright 1941 by Time Magazine.

More on Mark Twain

More on Winston Churchill

Orson Welles, with Dick Cavett, on Churchill, his wit, humor and grace (tip of the old scrub brush to the Churchill Centre):

Yeah, mostly this is an encore post from past years.

More, contemporary reports from 2012:


Ready for November 30? Humidor set? Liquor stocked?

November 29, 2012

November 30 is the birthday of Mark Twain (or Samuel Clemens), and of Winston Spencer Churchill.

A good study of American history could be achieved merely in studying the chronicle of the lives of these two men, even though Churchill was British.  A good study of American history, or world history, cannot be had without familiarity with both of them, and why they are important.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill gives the &qu...

Prime Minister Winston Churchill gives the “Victory” sign to crowds in London on Victory in Europe Day. Wikipedia image

Both were writers, of travelogues and geographical romps, of history, though Twain is chiefly known as a fiction writer.  Both were great humorists, often funny, often sharply witty with bon-mots that shone a highlight on some human foible or forgotten-but-shouldn’t-be point of history.

Both of them loved good whiskey, and a good cigar.

(I should have more to say about each of these men, especially having visited with Churchill in Wisconsin, Fulton, Missouri, and Washington, D.C., and with Twain in his hometown of Hannibal, Missouri, and Washington, D.C., in the past few months.  But I also will attend a funeral for a friend, and I will get a good night’s sleep; get a shot of whiskey, a good cigar if your cardiologist lets you have one on occasion, and toast them whether I write any more or not.)

So, how will you celebrate the anniversary of the births of Mark Twain and Winston Churchill, on November 30?

I wonder how they celebrate in Hannibal, and in Fulton?

Twain in Old Crow ad

Mark Twain was featured in an ad for Old Crow Whiskey, unknown year. Twain wrote, “Total abstinence is so excellent a thing that it cannot be carried to too great an extent. In my passion for it I even carry it so far as to totally abstain from total abstinence itself.” (Autograph inscription in album to Mrs. Rutherford B. Hayes, reported in The Washington Post, June 11, 1881)

More:


Two Alcotts, and the Concord transcendentalists – November 29

November 29, 2012

April is the cruelest month, and November the most disagreeable.

Students of literature might recognize something in that sentence.

English: Headshot of Louisa May Alcott (Novemb...

Louisa May Alcott (November 29, 1832 – March 6, 1888), American novelist, at age 20 – image from Wikipedia

Interesting coincidence:  Louisa May Alcott was born on November 29, 1832; her father, Amos Bronson Alcott, was born on November 29, 33 years earlier.

Do high school literature students find them interesting, even? Or do the students learn about transcendentalism only because they know “it’s on the test?”

American Memory at the Library of Congress holds history for each day of the year.  The entry for November 29 notes and chronicles the dual births of the Alcotts, and discusses the transcendentalist movement — with a lot of good links for teachers or students.

My hope is that more teachers of history will use more literature in their courses.  While Texas standards on history say little about transcendentalism, the reality is that it is difficult to understand America and its development from 1800 to the Civil War, without understanding transcendentalism.  Would America have gone to war over slavery and states rights, but for this movement in literature and social theory?

What can students learn about life in America from reading the Alcotts’ books?

Cribbed entirely from the American Memory LOC site, this is a self-contained literature and history unit by itself [links in the text all from the good people at the Library of Congress]:

English: Photograph of American educator and p...

American educator and philosopher Amos Bronson Alcott (1799-1888), father of the literary Alcott girls. From the NYPL Digital Gallery via Wikipedia

Daughter of the Transcendentalists

“November is the most disagreeable month in the whole year,” said Margaret, standing at the window one dull afternoon, looking out at the frostbitten garden.

“That’s the reason I was born in it,” observed Jo pensively, quite unconscious of the blot on her nose.

“If something very pleasant should happen now, we should think it a delightful month,” said Beth, who took a hopeful view of everything, even November.

“I dare say, but nothing pleasant ever does happen in this family,” said Meg, who was out of sorts….

“My patience, how blue we are!” cried Jo…. “Oh, don’t I wish I could manage things for you as I do for my heroines!…I’d have some rich relation leave you a fortune unexpectedly….”

“Jo and I are going to make fortunes for you all. Just wait ten years, and see if we don’t,” said Amy, who sat in a corner making mud pies, as Hannah called her little clay models of birds, fruit, and faces.   Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, Chapter 15

Louisa May Alcott, the second daughter of Amos Bronson Alcott, teacher and transcendentalist philosopher, and Abigail May, social worker and reformer, was born in the “disagreeable month” of November, just like her literary creation Jo March, the rambunctious heroine of Little Women.

On November 29, 1832, Amos Bronson Alcott wrote his mother of his joy in “the birth of a second daughter on my own birth-day.” Convinced of the importance of early childhood, Bronson Alcott continued to keep a regular journal of each of his four daughters’ growth and activities. Shortly before her second birthday, Louisa’s father wrote of her:

Louisa…manifests uncommon activity and force of mind at present…by force of will and practical talent, [she] realizes all that she conceives.…Bronson Alcott, November 5, 1834.
The Journals of Bronson Alcott, (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1938), page 47.

During Louisa’s early years, her father’s innovative Temple School in Boston failed, as did the family’s experiment with communal living with a group of transcendentalist mystics at Fruitlands, an early eighteenth-century farmhouse.

A happier time began after the family settled at Hillside House, later Nathaniel Hawthorne’s residence, which he renamed the Wayside, in Concord, Massachusetts. There, the Alcotts found a sympathetic community and like-minded friends. Louisa and her sisters were always welcome to participate in the conversations of the poets, philosophers, and reformers that made up their parents’ circle.

Bridge surrounded by trees
The Old Bridge, Concord, Massachusetts, 1900.
Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920

The Alcott girls enjoyed the natural beauty of Concord, boating on the river, ice skating on Walden Pond, and running free in the surrounding fields and woods. Henry David Thoreau was one of Louisa’s instructors when she was a young girl. In one of his fanciful lessons, he taught her that a cobweb was a “handkerchief dropped by a fairy.” As a teenager, Louisa enjoyed borrowing books from Ralph Waldo Emerson‘s collection and delighted in conversing with the “sage of Concord.”

For the most part, the Alcotts taught their daughters at home. Daily journal-keeping formed a significant part of the home curriculum. Louisa and her sisters each wrote a weekly journal in which they recorded family events and published their literary and artistic endeavors. The girls and their neighbors formed a dramatic society, and the Hillside barn became the local theater where they performed the Louisa’s melodramatic plays.

Although their home and community life was rich, the family remained financially impoverished. Of necessity, all family members pitched in to support the family, with the daughters working as teachers, companions, and domestics. Besides their paid labors, they contributed their time and talents to the abolition movement, the women’s suffrage movement, and to the relief of those poorer than themselves.

Louisa resolved early on to earn money to relieve the hardship of her mother’s life. Gradually, she began earning a reliable income from stories and sketches published in and from dime-novel thrillers, including published under the pseudonym “A. M. Barnard.” Her first book of stories, , was published in 1855.

View of a hospital ward
Patients in Ward K of Armory Square Hospital,
Washington, D.C.,
August, 1865.
Selected Civil War Photographs, 1861-1865

During the Civil War, Louisa served as a nurse at a Union Army hospital in Washington, D.C. There, she kept careful journals which she published later as Hospital Sketches. A severe bout of typhoid fever brought her home to Concord an invalid. It is thought that she was treated with mercury for her fever, as were many others who became ill during this period. Mercury poisoning was apparently the cause of the slow debilitation that led to her death twenty years later.

In 1868, at the suggestion of her publisher, Louisa wrote a “story for girls” that was to bring her lasting fame, Little Women; or Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy, based on the experiences of her own family. Little Women was an immediate success. It was followed the next year by a second volume with the same title, subtitled, “Part Second,” and in subsequent years, by two sequels, Little Men and Jo’s Boys.

During the 1870s, Alcott and her mother were deeply involved in the women’s suffrage movement, canvassing door-to-door encouraging women to register to vote. In 1879, Louisa registered as the first woman to vote in the Concord school committee election.

Suffragette in a group of men
Help Us to Win the Vote, 1914.
By Popular Demand: “Votes for Women” Suffrage Pictures, 1850-1920

Louisa’s later years were financially secure and her family was able to live comfortably and pursue their many intellectual and artistic interests at their second home in Concord, Orchard House. Her last years, however, were shadowed by the deaths of two of her sisters and her brother-in-law. As the sole support of her parents, sisters, and her nephews and niece, she became overburdened with work and ill health. Louisa May Alcott died, two days after her father, on March 6, 1888, at the age of fifty-six.

House nestled in an orchard
The Orchard House, Concord, Home of the Alcotts,
Concord, Massachusetts, 1900.
Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920

Father of the “Little Women”

Woman…is helping herself to secure her place in a better spirit and manner than any we [men] can suggest or devise,…it becomes us to take, rather than proffer Consels [sic], readily waiting to learn her wishes and aims, as she has so long and so patiently deferred to us.Letter from A. Bronson Alcott to Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Concord, Massachusetts, May 4, 1869.
The Letters of A. Bronson Alcott (Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press, 1969), p. 471.

On November 29, 1799, Amos Bronson Alcott, educator, philosopher of American Transcendentalism, and father of the original “Little Women”—Anna, Louisa, Elizabeth, and May Alcott—was born in Wolcott, Connecticut. The son of a poor flax farmer, Alcott was almost completely self-educated. As a young man, Alcott worked as a peddler, handyman, and gardener, pursuing a self-selected course of readings in English and German literature and philosophy.

In 1830, Alcott journeyed to Boston to attend a series of lectures on abolition. There he met Samuel Joseph May, Unitarian minister, and his sister Abigail “Abba” May, a teacher and social worker. On May 23, 1830, Alcott and Abba May were married. During the next several years, the Alcotts were forced to move several times, as Bronson’s experimental schools were abandoned as financially unsuccessful.

During this period, the couple’s four daughters were born and Alcott continued to develop his lifelong habit of journal-writing, chronicling the daily events in the development of his children. At the basis of his educational theory was his belief that “early education is the enduring power” in the formation of the imagination and moral life of the human being.

Exterior of Tremont Temple
Tremont Temple,
Boston, Massachusetts,
c 1900.
Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920

On September 22, 1834, Alcott opened his famous Temple School, located in the Masonic Temple on Tremont Street in Boston, where he put into effect many of his innovative educational theories. His assistant, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, who went on to found the first kindergarten in the United States, published the plan of the school the next year in her book Record of a School.

Alcott believed that learning should be a pleasant experience for children, and that the classroom environment should be beautiful. He built the classroom furniture himself and allowed the children to decorate the room with pictures and plants and to arrange their desks in a manner pleasing to themselves.

Alcott emphasized the cultivation of the virtues of self-discipline, self-expression, and charity. A form of democratic classroom government was instituted. His curriculum included physical education, dance, art, music, nature study, and daily journal-writing. He acquired a juvenile library and also encouraged the children to read classic adult works such as Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, Spenser’s Faerie Queene, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and the poems of Wordsworth and Coleridge.

The school was, at first, very successful, and attracted a number of well-connected students. However, Alcott’s inability to compromise on his ideals eventually led to its failure as well. In 1835, the last remaining pupils were withdrawn from the school due to Alcott’s insistence on permitting the attendance of a black child.

Exterior of a house
Wayside, the Home of Hawthorne, Concord, Massachusetts, [formerly Hillside, home of the Alcotts], c1901.
Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920

With the financial assistance of Ralph Waldo Emerson, the Alcotts moved to Hillside House in Concord, Massachusetts. Emerson also paid for Alcott’s trip to England to visit a school founded upon his theories. Alcott returned with a new friend, Charles Lane, a mystic transcendentalist, with whom he embarked on a new experiment, that of communal living at the farm they purchased, Fruitlands, an early eighteenth-century farmhouse.

The experiment in communal living was Alcott’s least successful adventure and proved a great hardship to his wife and children. The experience was later satirized by his daughter Louisa in her story, “Transcendental Wild Oats.” After the farm’s complete failure, the Alcotts returned to Concord, where the family renewed congenial friendships and developed a happy family life, in spite of their constant struggle with poverty.

I have had some faithful readings, during these January days—all of Carlyle including his translations—all of Goethe that came within my reach…. I have found refreshment, too, in Conversing with some little Children who pass the day in my study.… there is begotten in me the liveliest sense of my…duty of Teaching again.A. Bronson Alcott, Letter to Charles Lane, January 1846,
The Letters of A. Bronson Alcott, (Ames, Iowa: Iowa State University Press, 1969), 124.

A path into a grove of trees
Path to School of Philosophy,
Concord, Massachusetts,
c[between 1910-20].
Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920

Always notable for his humility, modesty, and his serene and happy spirit, Alcott continued to develop his educational ideas, teaching his children at home, and giving occasional “conversations.” These talks were directed parlor seminars in which he led a Socratic form of dialogue, in return for a small stipend. Eventually, Alcott’s seminars gained a popular following. They were especially well-attended on his tours in the West.

Exterior of the School of Philosophy
School of Philosophy,
Concord, Massachusetts,
c[between 1910-20].
Touring Turn-of-the-Century America: Photographs from the Detroit Publishing Company, 1880-1920

In his later years, Alcott’s daughter Louisa’s financial success as a writer enabled the family to purchase not only necessities, but a few luxuries as well. The family moved to Orchard House where Alcott established the Concord Summer School of Philosophy in a converted barn on the property. Alcott’s School of Philosophy was a gathering center for the Transcendentalists and flourished until shortly after his death in 1888.

Discover more about Alcott and the Concord Transcendentalists in American Memory:

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Climate insanity

November 28, 2012

Watching New Yorkers get caught not-yet-prepared to stop the shutdown of the subways and electrical grid due to the Sandy storm surge at high tide, and noting that the ridicule heaped by denialists on those who tried to warn us about such storms, I asked at Climate Sanity about updates on their rosy “What? Us worry?” view of climate change.

Photo of water in 86th Street Station in Brooklyn, NY, after Sandy

Photo of water in 86th Street Station in Brooklyn, NY, after Sandy – photo found at Naked Capitalism. Denialists could note that subway crime was significantly reduced at the time of this photo.

Surprisingly, we got an answer.  ‘What?  Worry?  Us?  What surge?  You shoulda seen the Hurricane of 1938!  Why, back in the Jurassic there were even BIGGER surges . . .’

It’s a classic example of how rabid advocacy for a disproven position can predict that the rabid advocate will not change her/his mind, at least publicly.

More:

Cartoon by Joel Pett, USAToday, what if climate change is a big hoax

Cartoon by Joel Pett, USA Today


Parkland Hosptial weathered the crises – November 27, 1963

November 27, 2012

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins* wrote a piece for the Dallas Morning News, published November 25, 2012, describing the qualities he hopes the search committee will find in a new leader for Dallas County’s massive medical care institution, Parkland Hospital“Parkland needs an inspiring servant leader.”

Parkland Hospital, Dallas - Dallas Business Journal image

Parkland Hospital, Dallas – Dallas Business Journal image

For more than a decade the hospital has been hammered by a massive load of charity cases, including tens of thousands of people forced to used the emergency room for primary care because they cannot get into the health care system in other ways.  Such crowds, such budget pressures, such pressures on staff, force mistakes.  Parkland has not been immune.

Parkland emergency room wait times for non-critical care are legendary.  I’ve had students miss most of a week waiting for care there.  At the same time, I’ve had students return to class in what I considered record time after being patched up from problematic baby deliveries, auto accidents, and gunshot wounds.

Problems in billing and record keeping for Medicaid and Medicare forced the resignation of a long-time hospital director.  Much of the past two years have been crisis mode for the hospital, laboring frantically not to lose its federal funding (Dallas County underfunds the hospital as a matter of tax-restraint policy).

Friends tell me morale is not great.

I stumbled into this letter at a great site for historical items, Letter of Note.  In times of crisis, those appointed or anointed to lead may do several things to rally workers to do their best, to carry an institution through the tough times.

I wager this letter, in 1963, did more to build Parkland Hospital as a quality institution than all the audits, investigations, and exhortations to abide by federal policy and stop losing money, in the past decade.  What do you think?

November 27, 1963, was less than a week after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, who died in a Parkland operating room, the wounding of Texas Gov. John Connally, who was operated on in another operating room, and the shooting of presumed assassin Lee H. Oswald, who also got care at Parkland at his death.

We were not found wanting, thank you letter to employees of Parkland Hospital, Dallas, Nov. 27, 1963

We were not found wanting, thank you letter to employees of Parkland Hospital, Dallas, Nov. 27, 1963; (Source: Dallas Observer; Image via Wired.) (Click for larger image)

Transcript, from the Dallas Observer, via Wired, via Letters of Note:

Transcript [links added here]

DALLAS COUNTY HOSPITAL DISTRICT
Office Memorandum
November 27, 1963

To: All Employees

At 12:38 p.m., Friday, November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy and Texas’ Governor John Connally were brought to the Emergency Room of Parkland Memorial Hospital after being struck down by the bullets of an assassin.

At 1:07 p.m., Sunday, November 24, 1963, Lee. H. Oswald, accused assassin of the late president, died in an operating room of Parkland Memorial Hospital after being shot by a bystander in the basement of Dallas’ City Hall. In the intervening 48 hours and 31 minutes Parkland Memorial Hospital had:

1. Become the temporary seat of the government of the United States.

2. Become the temporary seat of the government of the State of Texas.

3. Become the site of the death of the 35th President.

4. Become the site of the ascendency of the 36th President.

5. Become site of the death of President Kennedy’s accused assassin.

6. Twice become the center of the attention of the world.

7. Continued to function at close to normal pace as a large charity hospital.

What is it that enables an institution to take in stride such a series of history jolting events? Spirit? Dedication? Preparedness? Certainly, all of these are important, but the underlying factor is people. People whose education and training is sound. People whose judgement is calm and perceptive. People whose actions are deliberate and definitive. Our pride is not that we were swept up by the whirlwind of tragic history, but that when we were, we were not found wanting.

(Signed)

C. J. Price
Administrator

The people of Parkland Hospital in 2012 will bring it through the current, slower series of jolting events, I predict.

When that happens, will the administrator think to thank them?

More:

_____________

* In Texas, the lead commissioner in the county commissions is called “judge.”  To distinguish between this executive branch judge and court judges, judges of courts are usually identified by the court in which they preside.  Clay Jenkins is the leader of the Dallas County Commission.


Department of Interior finally settled the Native American trust case

November 27, 2012

Here’s a headline that shouldn’t be buried in lame duck Congress folderol nor holiday news doldrums:  The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) and plaintiffs in the Cobell case reached a settlement that the court has approved. This is the end of litigation — parties hope — on the long-running saga of government mismanagement of trust accounts held by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for the benefit of Native Americans, over the last century.

Billions of dollars went missing to bad accounting.

Elouise Cobell met with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, 2010

Elouise Cobell met with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office, in December 2010, after the passage and signing of the Claims Resolution Act of 2010.

Wikipedia has a concise, but thorough enough description of the case and its predecessors:

Cobell v. Salazar (previously Cobell v. Kemp- thorne and Cobell v. Norton and Cobell v. Babbitt) is a class-action lawsuit brought by Native American representatives against two departments of the United States government. The plaintiffs claim that the U.S. government has incorrectly accounted for the income from Indian trust assets, which belong to individual Native Americans (as beneficial owners) but are managed by the Department of the Interior (as the legal owner and fiduciary trustee). The case was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The original complaint asserted no claims for mismanagement of the trust assets, since such claims could only properly be asserted in the United States Court of Federal Claims.

Arguments, appeals and deeper investigation strung the case out; lead plaintiff Elouise Cobell, a member of the Blackfoot Tribe, did not live to see the end of the case (she died in 2011).

It’s difficult to judge whether justice has been served in this case, and that judgment may not be ripe for many years.  Ending the litigation should create some hope for better conditions on Indian Reservations, and for Native Americans across the nation.  Especially the education benefits of the law required to settle the case, could provide a foundation for future prosperity of the affected tribes and people.

DOI announced the settlement in a press release November 26 (links in the body of the release added here):

Salazar Announces Final Steps on Cobell Litigation and Implementation of Settlement


Settlement includes land consolidation program to help promote tribal self-determination and strengthen economic development

11/26/2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today lauded the final approval of the Cobell settlement and outlined steps that Interior will take to help implement the historic $3.4 billion settlement. The settlement resolves a long-running class action lawsuit regarding the U.S. government’s trust management and historical accounting of individual American Indian trust accounts. It became final on November 24, 2012, following action by the Supreme Court and expiration of the appeal period.

“With the settlement now final, we can put years of discord behind us and start a new chapter in our nation-to-nation relationship,” said Salazar. “Today marks another historic step forward in President Obama’s agenda of reconciliation and empowerment for Indian Country and begins a new era of trust administration.”

The settlement includes a $1.5 billion fund to be distributed to class members for accounting and potential trust fund and asset mismanagement claims. The settlement also includes a $1.9 billion fund for a land consolidation program that allows for the voluntary sale of individual land interests that have “fractionated,” or split among owners, over successive generations. Fractionated land can have many owners – sometimes hundreds or more – diminishing the land’s value and making it difficult for individuals to use the land for agriculture, business development, or housing from which tribes can benefit. Up to $60 million of the $1.9 billion fund may be set aside to provide scholarships for American Indians and Alaska Natives to attend college or vocational school.

“This marks the historic conclusion of a contentious and long running period of litigation,” said Hilary Tompkins, Solicitor for the Department of the Interior. “Through the hard work and good will of plaintiffs, Interior and Treasury officials and Department of Justice counsel, we are turning a new page and look forward to collaboratively working with Indian country to manage these important funds and assets.”

Payments to Claimants
The Claims Administrator will now begin overseeing disbursement of the $1.5 billion to nearly 500,000 class members. The court previously approved GCG, Inc., as the Claims Administrator. The Department of the Treasury will transfer the $1.5 billion to an account at JP Morgan Chase, a bank approved by the court. Per the terms of the settlement agreement, Interior’s Office of the Special Trustee (OST) has assisted GCG with its database by supplying contact information of individual class members from its records.

“We will continue to work with GCG to ensure it has the information it needs to make expeditious and accurate payments,” Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes said. “At the same time, we’re focused on making meaningful improvements to our trust administration so that we’re more transparent, responsive and accountable in managing these substantial funds and assets.”

Trust Land Consolidation Program
The Department of the Interior will use $1.9 billion from the Trust Land Consolidation Fund to acquire interests in trust and restricted lands that have “fractionated” over successive generations since the 1880s.

Individual owners will be paid fair market value for such interests with the understanding that the acquired interests will remain in trust and be consolidated for beneficial use by tribal communities. Interested sellers may convey their fractional interests on a voluntary basis. Currently, there are over 2.9 million fractional interests owned by approximately 260,000 individuals.

While the settlement was pending, Interior held a series of consultation meetings with tribes in 2011 to ensure that this landmark program incorporates tribal priorities and promotes tribal participation in reducing land fractionation in a timely and efficient way. These discussions informed a draft land consolidation plan released in February of 2012. Interior is incorporating public comments and expects to release an updated plan by the end of the year for additional consultation.

“The land consolidation program is our chance to begin to solve a fractionation problem that has plagued Indian country for decades,” said Interior Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin K. Washburn. “We are anxious to get started. We know that Interior’s continued outreach through consultations with Indian Country is a crucial component to accomplishing truly open government-to-government communication”

Congress approved the Cobell settlement on November 30, 2010 as part of the Claims Resolution Act of 2010. President Obama signed the legislation on December 8, 2010. The district court approved the Cobell settlement on August 4, 2011 and it has been upheld through the appeals process.

For additional information about the individual class-action payments, please contact GCG, Inc. at 1-800-961-6109 or via email at Info@IndianTrust.com

For additional information on the Trust Land Consolidation Program, please visit http://www.doi.gov/cobell/index.cfm

More:

  • Page in memory of Elouise Cobell, the lead plaintiff in the case — who died in 2011; President Obama described Ms. Cobell, and the litigation, in remembering her:  ¶”As treasurer of the Blackfeet Nation, Elouise spoke out when she saw that the federal government had failed to account for billions of dollars that it owed to hundreds of thousands of her fellow Native Americans. In 1996, she filed suit, and for 15 years, tirelessly led a legal battle, with seven trials, 10 appeals, and dozens of published decisions. She fought her battle not just in the courts, but in the halls of Congress before finally securing justice for more than 300,000 American Indians and Alaska Natives in the form of a $3.4 billion settlement.  ¶”The agreement reached in Cobell v. Salazar marked the largest government class-action settlement in our nation’s history. The scholarship fund this settlement established will give more Native Americans access to higher education. Tribes will have more control over their own lands. Elouise’s tireless efforts strengthened the government-to-government relationship with Indian country, and a generation of Native Americans and all Americans has seen the promise of justice realized.  ¶”Last December, I had the privilege to meet with Elouise in the Oval Office prior to signing into law a bill to make things right. The Claims Resolution Act of 2010 is a direct result of the settlement that bears her name. It is proof of an enduring American idea – that change is always possible.”

Note to hikers in Provo Canyon: This is not Bigfoot

November 26, 2012

Not Bigfoot:

Bear on the Misty Falls Trail, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks - photo by Spencer Darrell, rights reserved

Bear on the Misty Falls Trail, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks – photo by Spencer Darrell, rights reserved

Assume that thing in the brush is a bear if it looks vaguely like a bear; if you’re filming, do so as you back up, and only through a very long telephoto lens (bears can sprint up to 30 mph; you want a 300-yard head start).   A bear can do more damage to you than Big Foot; don’t mess up the bear’s thing with tourists looking for cryptofauna.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Spencer Darrell, one of Our Men in California.

More:


Can videos make you teacher of the year? Paul Andersen’s Montana science videos

November 25, 2012

There’s a great story here — maybe more than one.

For “Origin of Species Day,” November 24, the anniversary of the 1859 publication of Charles Darwin’s most famous book, Paul Andersen sent out this Tweet:

Who is Paul Andersen?  He’s Montana’s Teacher of the Year (for what year, I don’t know).  He teaches science in Bozeman, at Bozeman High.

Plus, he’s produced 224 videos, most of them on science issues.  They’re short, they’re informative, and they work.  Salman Khan, not yet — but here’s one more piece of the great big puzzle, how do we marry education and technology.

Where does he offer continuing education for teachers on how to produce videos?  Why isn’t Texas paying big money to him to get him to do that, to teach Texans how to use YouTube to teach?

Andersen’s on the right path, and he’s running hard.  Teachers, are you paying attention?

(By the way, I’d quibble a bit on his history — I think Darwin did a fair deal of experimentation on evolution, breeding pigeons for a decade, among other things.  But Andersen’s use of stickleback evolution is very good; the little fishies have been observed to speciate in the wild, and then to duplicate that speciation in captivity, thereby confirming what was observed out in the lakes.  Thank you sticklebacks!)

Very quickly this gets into serious territory.

Look, I’m an out of the loop teacher in Dallas, Texas — and for all its money and size and importance, Texas is mostly a cultural and educational backwater.   It’s not that there aren’t great people in education here, or no great resources — we are shackled to an ancient political system that puts more value on fealty to not-quite-superordinate ideas than on cutting edge education, or mass educational attainment.  There is a powerful anti-intellectual stream in Texas politics that believes a hobbled education system will not threaten the political, social or cultural order.  Too many Texans take great solace in that, covertly or overtly.

As a nation, we are engaged in a series of great education experiments, using our children as testing subjects, as guinea pigs.  How does video fit into making education work better?

Here we’ve got Paul Andersen and his science videos.

Despite my grousing about his not being in Texas, he is active in national circles where the serious questions get asked about how to use video, and other technologies.

A YouTube Education Summit on October 18 and 19 got Andersen out of Montana, where Andersen ran into C. G. P. Grey, another guy who uses video.

Grey responded with this ode to a “digital Aristotle“:

Links and other information Grey offered:

Some thoughts on teachers, students and the Future of Education.
The book kid me is holding in the video is The Way Things Work. If there’s a bookish child in your life, you should get them a copy: http://goo.gl/QdreH

Also I don’t think that the idea of Digital Aristotle is sci-fi, but if you *do* want to read the sci-fi version, I highly recommend The Diamond Age: http://goo.gl/uvbx6

Thanks to YouTube EDU for bringing me out: http://www.youtube.com/education

And Angela for arranging the whole show: http://www.youtube.com/aresearchbug

And Jessica for her amazing note artwork: http://www.youtube.com/seppyca

Full credits and more info at: http://cgpgrey.squarespace.com/blog/digital-aristotle-thoughts-on-the-future-…

CGPGrey T-Shirts available from DFTBA: http://dftba.com/product/10m/CGP-Grey-Logo-Shirt

Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/cgpgrey

Google+: http://plus.google.com/115415241633901418932/posts

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Greys-Blog/193301110697381

Andersen replied, questioning how well a digital Aristotle can work, since it takes Aristotle out of the equation:

Links Andersen promised:

Paul Andersen reflects on Digital Aristotle, his trip to the YouTube Edu summit, and the future of education

Digital Aristotle: Thoughts on the Future of Education:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vsCAM17O-M

60 Minutes episode on Sal Khan:
http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7401696n

Classroom Game Design at TEDxBozeman:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4qlYGX0H6Ec

Blended Learning Cycle:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-apJDi7cx9o

Game on, ladies and gentlemen.  Which one is closer to being right? 

There you go, from evolution, to evolution of teaching and education.  What’s the selection tool for quality education?  Which species of learning will survive to reproduce?

Your thoughts in comments, please.

More:


Rhodes Scholars, U.S. class of 2013

November 24, 2012

I’ve been delayed in noting the U.S. Rhodes Scholars class of 2013.  The Rhodes Trust announced the group earlier this month, on November 17.

Rhodes Scholars get two years of study, usually, at Oxford University, in a rigorous program.  The program was set up by Cecil Rhodes, the developer of Africa, in his will.  He provided enough money to fund a program that annually selects 32 students of great leadership potential and very well-rounded education from the U.S., and a similar number in each of 13 other jurisdictions.

English: Cecil Rhodes makes peace with the Nde...

Cecil Rhodes makes peace with the Ndebele, Matobo Hills in present-day Zimbabwe, 1896. Zimbabwe was formerly known as Rhodesia. Sketch by Robert Baden-Powell (the founder of the international Scouting movement) (Wikipedia)

Over the years this program trained many of our best leaders and most accomplished people in several areas.  Rhodes Scholars include many of the world’s most accomplished people.  I find it interesting, and inspiring, to see who won the most recent awards, what they’ve done so far in their young lives, and what they plan to do.

Do you know any of these people?  Do any come from your home town, or your alma mater?  Got a story about your Rhodes Scholar studies, or your work with Rhodes Scholars (are you Robert Reich?)?

Below is the press release from the Rhodes Trust’s U.S. arm, and then profiles of the U.S. winners (with photos this year!).

The press release:

WASHINGTON, DC/November 17, 2012 – Elliot F. Gerson, American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust, today announced the names of the thirty-two American men and women chosen as Rhodes Scholars representing the United States. Rhodes Scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England, and may
allow funding in some instances for four years. Mr. Gerson called the Rhodes Scholarships, “the oldest and best known award for international study, and arguably the most famous academic award available to American college graduates.” They were created in 1902 by the Will of Cecil Rhodes, British philanthropist and African colonial pioneer. The first class
of American Rhodes Scholars entered Oxford in 1904; those elected today will enter Oxford in October 2013.

Rhodes Scholars are chosen in a two-stage process. First, candidates must be endorsed by their college or university. This year approximately 1700 students sought their institution’s endorsement; 838 were endorsed by 302 different colleges and universities. Committees of Selection in each of 16 U.S. districts then invite the strongest applicants to appear before them for interview. Gerson said, “applicants are chosen on the basis of the criteria set down in the Will of Cecil Rhodes. These criteria are high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership, and physical vigor. These basic characteristics are directed at fulfilling Mr. Rhodes’s hopes that the Rhodes Scholars would make an effective and positive contribution throughout the world. In Rhodes’ words, his Scholars should ‘esteem the performance of public duties as their highest aim.'”

Applicants in the United States may apply either through the state where they are legally resident or where they have attended college for at least two years. The district committees met separately, on Friday and Saturday, November 16 and 17, in cities across the country.

Each district committee made a final selection of two Rhodes Scholars from the candidates of the state or states within the district. Two-hundred twelve applicants from 88 different colleges and universities reached the final stage of the competition, including 12 that had never before had a student win a Rhodes Scholarship.

The thirty-two Rhodes Scholars chosen from the United States will join an international group of Scholars chosen from fourteen other jurisdictions around the world. In addition to the thirty-two Americans, Scholars are also selected from Australia, Bermuda, Canada, the nations of the Commonwealth Caribbean, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Kenya, New Zealand, Pakistan, Southern Africa (South Africa, plus Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia and Swaziland), Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Approximately 80 Scholars are selected worldwide each year, usually including several who have attended American colleges and universities but who are not U.S. citizens and who have applied through their home country.

With the elections announced today, 3,292 Americans have won Rhodes Scholarships, representing 314 colleges and universities. Since 1976, women have been eligible to apply and 473 American women have now won the coveted scholarship. This year, men constituted 55% of the applicant pool and 53% of those who reached the final stage of the
competition. Just over 1900 American Rhodes Scholars are living in all parts of the U.S. and abroad.

The value of the Rhodes Scholarship varies depending on the academic field and the degree (B.A., master’s, doctoral) chosen. The Rhodes Trust pays all college and university fees, provides a stipend to cover necessary expenses while in residence in Oxford as well as during vacations, and transportation to and from England. Mr. Gerson estimates that the
total value of the Scholarship averages approximately US$50,000 per year, and up to as much as US$200,000 for Scholars who remain at Oxford for four years in certain departments.

[The press release continues:  "The full list of the newly elected United States Rhodes Scholars, with the states from which they were chosen, their home addresses, and their American colleges or universities, follows. Brief profiles follow the list."  Here we have included only the profiles.]

Profiles of the U.S. Rhodes Scholars-elect class of 2013 — (These profiles include several of the at-large Rhodes Scholars-elect — for ease of edting, I have not removed them (heck, take a look and see what the leaders from other parts of the world look like).  The list of only the 32 U.S. winners can be found here.):

Rhodes Scholars-elect class of 2013

Clayton P. Aldern

Clayton P. Aldern

Minnesota, 2013

Current place of residence: Cedar

University: Brown University

Other information: Clayton is a senior at Brown where he majors in neuroscience. His work focuses on visual information processing and decision-making, and toward a better understanding of how human memory functions.  Clay is also active as a peer advisor, a journalist, as editor-in-chief of a magazine of the Brown Daily Herald, and is committed to increasing scientific literacy in American culture.  He also conducts research on treatment access for post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury patients.

Juliet Elizabeth Allan

Juliet Elizabeth Allan

Georgia, 2013

Current place of residence: Atlanta

University: University of Georgia

Other information: Juliet graduated from the University of Georgia in 2012, with bachelors degrees in Arabic, international affairs and economics, and a masters in international policy. Elizabeth’s interests focus on U.S. policy in the middle east and north Africa. She has studied in Morocco, at Oxford, as well as in Peru, Germany, China, India and South Korea. She is co-director of a tutoring and mentoring program for low income students that includes 200 volunteers, and is also a long-distance runner and white water rafter.

James Bonifacio

James Bonifacio

New Zealand, 2013

Current place of residence: Christchurch

University: University of Canterbury

Current/ recent course: Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Physics (2011) / Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Physics (Honours)

Other information: James is completing his Honours year in Maths and Physics. Fascinated by science from a young age, the focus of his interest now lies in theoretical physics. Alongside his own drive for understanding how the world works, James is passionate about teaching and inspiring others to learn, both fellow students and through volunteering at a local primary school and Refugee Homework Centre.  A black belt in Taekwondo – he won Gold in the 2011 New Zealand Black Belt Championships and Silver in the 2012 South Island Championships – James  enjoys the discipline physical challenge brings. He is currently training for the Coast to Coast World Multi-Sport Championship to be held in New Zealand in February 2013. Longer-term he aspires to contribute to the collective understanding of mankind through the study of theoretical physics.

Jennifer M. Bright

Jennifer M. Bright

New York, 2013

Current place of residence: Manhattan

University: Yale University

Other information: Jennifer is a senior at Yale majoring in ethics, politics and economics. Jenny has focused on the legal, medical, economic and political aspects of urban public health policy. She has interned for New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, the New York Academy of Medicine and in the New York City Mayor’s office. She is also editor-in-chief of the Yale Undergraduate Law Review and the president of the Yale Urban Collective.

Joy A. Buolamwini

Joy A. Buolamwini

Tennessee, 2013

Current place of residence: Cordova

University: Georgia Institute of Technology

Other information: Joy graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 2012 where she majored in computer science. She is now at the Carter Center working on global mobile surveying tools. An entrepreneur who has founded or co-founded three businesses, she has established a mobile data system for use in Ethiopia, and a digital teaching tool for schools in developing countries. Joy also helped develop a program using a robotic teddy bear to help the recognition ability of autistic children. She has won a Fulbright for work in Zambia where she will work to expand access to education.

David M. Carel

David M. Carel

Pennsylvania, 2013

Current place of residence: Penn Valley

University: Yale University

Other information: David is a senior at Yale where he majors in economics. He cofounded an education technology start-up and performs as lead drummer in a West African dance troup and as an instructor in Rukdan Israeli dancing. He has become a leading advocate relating to HIV/AIDS, including as president of an AIDS coalition at Yale and as a national board member of the Student Global AIDS campaign. He has done extensive work at the community level in a small town in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, the country of his parents’ birth. He is fluent in Zulu and Hebrew.

Louis Chambers

Louis Chambers

New Zealand, 2013

Current place of residence: Dunedin

University: University of Otago

Current/ recent course: Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Laws (Honours) Conjoint

Other information: Louis is completing his Honours in Law and his BA in Economics, with Environmental Management.  Alongside his legal studies, Louis’s love of debating won him the 2011 Australian Law Students Association Mooting Competition; he serves as President and Adjudicator for the University of Otago Debating Society and has co-founded Law for Change to inspire students and young professionals to pursue public interest legal careers. Louis is National Co-ordinator of Generation Zero, a youth advocacy organisation promoting international thinking on climate change issues. For relaxation, Louis enjoys mountain biking, running, snowboarding, rock climbing and more. Longer-term Louis hopes to contribute to environmental and climate change policy, whether via government or NGO.

Natasha Chilundika

Natasha Chilundika

Zambia, 2013

Current place of residence: Lusaka

University: University of Zambia

Current/recent course: Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Studies (2011)

Other information: Since completing her BSc in Agricultural Economics, Natasha has worked as a research assistant seeking to promote the interests of agricultural smallholder farming in the private sector. Whilst at University she served as Administrative Secretary for the University of Zambia Students Union Sports Council (UNZASU) and as Volleyball Team representative.  In her free time now Natasha enjoys dancing, and is closely involved in her local church. Longer term she envisages a policy role, influencing national approaches to economic policy with a view to alleviating poverty.

Aidan C. de B. Daly

Aidan C. de B. Daly

New York, 2013

Current place of residence: Manhattan

University: Harvard University

Other information: Aidan is a senior at Harvard majoring in computer science, with a minor in molecular and cellular biology. Aidan has done research internships at Harvard in quantum computational chemistry, at NYU in DNA computing, and at the American Museum of Natural History in population genetics. He has developed an iPhone app for field scientists, directed video productions, is a book illustrator, is co-captain of the Harvard kendo club, and was coxswain on the varsity lightweight crew.

Christopher B. Dobyns

Christopher B. Dobyns

Maryland/DC, 2013

Current place of residence: Highland, Maryland

University: Cornell University

Other information: Christopher is a senior at Cornell where he majors in African Studies with minors in Inequality Studies and Law and Society. Kit is a Udall Scholar who has studied Kiswahili and Zulu, taught English in Rwanda, worked at an orphanage in Tanzania, developed a curriculum for South Africa’s National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities, and created a curriculum on human rights abuses for a high school in Rwanda. He also founded a company that distributes low-cost energy in rural Nigeria and founded a nonprofit that provides consulting to social entrepreneurs.

Alyssa Fitzpatrick

Alyssa Fitzpatrick

South Australia, 2013

Current place of residence: Adelaide

University: University of Adelaide

Current/ recent course: Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery

Other information: Alyssa is in the final year of her medical degree. During the course of her degree she took electives in Vietnam and in Oxford and found both experiences profoundly influential in different ways. Apart from her studies, Alyssa serves as Chair of Insight, the global health group of the University of Adelaide, and served as Publicity Officer for the Australian Medical Students’ Association’s Global Health Committee.  Alyssa enjoys and performs classical and contemporary ballet and performs with, and is on the executive of, the Adelaide University Medical Orchestra. Beyond Oxford, in the shorter term, she hopes to train in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and, in the longer term, to work within the global health arena from both a medical and public health perspective.

Amanda J. Frickle

Amanda J. Frickle

Montana, 2013

Current place of residence: Billings

University: The College of Idaho

Other information: Amanda graduated from The College of Idaho in 2012 where she majored in political economy and in history, and graduated summa cum laude.  Amanda has been very active politically, a leader in the Obama campaign in Montana, as student body president, as president of the Gay-Straight Student Alliance, and as an advocate for LGBT rights.  She has also worked for the Idaho ACLU, an executive officer on the feminist majority alliance, and has petitioned for sustainable environmental practices.  Much of her academic work has been in gender studies.

Julian B. Gewirtz

Julian B. Gewirtz

Connecticut, 2013

Current place of residence: Hamden

University: Harvard University

Other information: Julian is a senior at Harvard majoring in history. Elected as a junior to Phi Beta Kappa, his secondary field is English and he has won prizes for his poetry. Fluent in Mandarin, his senior thesis is on the influence of western economists on Chinese reform. Julian is publisher of the Harvard Advocate, writes for the Huffington Post on China-related topics, and is a columnist for the Harvard Crimson. He also founded and directed a program that connects U.S. and Chinese young people, and has worked for Facebook, and for Alibaba in China.

Rhiana E. Gunn-Wright

Rhiana E. Gunn-Wright

Illinois, 2013

Current place of residence: Oak Lawn

University: Yale University

Other information: Rhiana graduated from Yale in 2011 with majors in African American studies and women’s gender and sexuality studies. She now works at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in Washington, DC. Rhiana’s senior thesis won prizes from both of her departments. Her interests focus on the complex causes of inequality, poverty, and disadvantage. She has been extremely active in community service, working for the Yale Women’s Center, New Haven school children, grandmothers caring for children orphaned by HIV-AIDS in Uganda, and in Chicago for wards of the state. In Washington, she works as a health outreach volunteer with sex workers.

Margaret C. Hayden

Margaret C. Hayden

Maine, 2013

Current place of residence: Brunswick

University: Stanford University

Other information:  Margaret is a senior at Stanford where she majors in human biology and ethics in society. Her honors thesis is on the ethical implications of biological conceptions of mental illness and personhood. She has published two papers, has served as a patient advocate, and is passionate about the medical, sociological, political and moral contexts of mental illness. She is also a varsity squash player and a varsity sailor.

Christian H. Heller

Christian H. Heller

North Dakota, 2013

Current place of residence: Beulah

University: United States Naval Academy

Other information: Christian is a senior at the United States Naval Academy, where he majors in history and minors in Arabic. He has interned at the U.S. Army War College and at the Office of Naval Intelligence. His academic work is focused to enable him to develop a broad understanding of the middle east. He is passionate about physical fitness, a marathoner and an amateur body builder; he is proud that he lost 115 pounds to attend the Naval Academy and to serve in the military. He has done submarine training, and attended the Marine Corps selection program at Quantico.

Allan J. Hsiao

Allan J. Hsiao

Kentucky, 2013

Current place of residence: Louisville

University: Harvard University

Other information: Allan is a senior at Harvard with majors in economics and east Asian studies. Elected as a junior to Phi Beta Kappa, Allan is editor-in-chief of the Harvard Asia Quarterly, a professional academic journal, and the only undergraduate on its editorial board, senior editor of the Harvard Health Policy Review and of the Harvard Global Health Review. Allan was also an executive producer and director of the Identity 2012 Fashion Show, and president and co-founder of the Harvard actuarial society. He has attended a summit for young leaders in China, and has studied in Korea and Japan.

Kiley F. Hunkler

Kiley F. Hunkler

Missouri, 2013

Current place of residence: Glendale

University: United States Military Academy

Other information: Kiley is a senior at the United States Military Academy where she majors in engineering psychology. She has the highest academic average in her department and is one of a small number of seniors endorsed to attend medical school directly out of West Point, which will now be deferred until after her course at Oxford. She is a battalion commander and is captain of the women’s lacrosse team. Kiley has interned at Walter Reed and worked at regional hospitals in Ghana.

Micah A. Johnson

Micah A. Johnson

Ohio, 2013

Current place of residence: Canton

University: Yale University

Other information: Micah is a senior at Yale where he majors in molecular biophysics and biochemistry and psychology with a neuroscience concentration. Micah was elected as a junior to Phi Beta Kappa and won the Hunt Lyman prize as the outstanding junior at Yale intellectually and socially. His academic focus has been on brain disorders. He has done research on Parkinson’s disease and worked in Ghana to design and develop a plan to improve mental health care. He founded a program at Yale that assists in public health programs in Latin America, and is executive editor of the Yale Journal of Medicine and Law. He is also a professional magician and was the international junior champion in close-up magic.

Rachel R. Kolb

Rachel R. Kolb

New Mexico, 2013

Current place of residence: Los Ranchos

University: Stanford University

Other information: Rachel graduated from Stanford in English in 2012, and with a minor in human biology. She is now a candidate at Stanford for an M.A. in English. Elected as a junior to Phi Beta Kappa, she is managing editor of the Leland Quarterly and an opinion columnist for The Stanford Daily. She has been active with Christian ministries and in disability advocacy. She has won numerous prizes for her writing and has for two years been president of the Stanford equestrian team, representing Stanford in the national finals. She is deaf; her Rhodes interview included the use of a sign interpreter.

Catherine Laporte-Oshiro

Catherine Laporte-Oshiro

California – North, 2013

Current place of residence: Larkspur

University: Yale University

Other information: Catherine is a senior at Yale majoring in ethics, politics and economics. Her concentration is on Chinese state capitalism and she aspires to a career in public service related to China. She has studied Mandarin in Beijing and interned with a non-profit organization in Hong Kong and taught English in Nanjing. She also served as president of the Yale undergraduate economics association. She is team captain of the Yale Fed Challenge Team, analyzing the state of the U.S. economy. Cate also served as an economics intern for Senator Dianne Feinstein and has been active in the Yale Political Union.

Christopher Linegar

Christopher Linegar

Diocesan College, Rondebosch 2013

Current place of residence: Cape Town

University: University of Cape Town

Current/ recent course: Bachelor of Science in Mechatronics

Other information: Chris is completing the final year of his degree on a bursary from Denel Dynamics.  His thesis project has been selected to be presented at the SAIEE National Competition later this year.  Serving as Web Editor at UCT’s Varsity Newspaper, he was extensively involved in promoting the growth of online student media at UCT, and has initiated several internships in journalism and web development.  Building on his experiences tutoring Maths and Physics, Chris is pursuing an outreach initiative aimed at making electronic learning resources available to underprivileged school pupils across South Africa.  For recreation, he is an avid photographer and enjoys mountain biking.  Chris envisages a career in autonomous robotics, through which he hopes to encourage students to aspire to higher levels of robotics research in South Africa.

Benjamine Y. Liu

Benjamine Y. Liu

Connecticut, 2013

Current place of residence: Westlake Village, California

University: Yale University

Other information: Benjamine graduated from Yale last year with a major in biology. He is now studying for an M.Phil. in computational biology at Cambridge University on a Mellon Fellowship. Ben also won a Goldwater Scholarship and Yale College’s highest honor, the Alpheus Henry Snow prize, for intellectual achievement and character. He has extensive public health experience, including in China, the Dominican Republic, and England, and has many publications in neuroscience. He also launched a musical and educational program in the Los Angeles County jails.

Dakota E. McCoy

Dakota E. McCoy

Pennsylvania, 2013

Current place of residence: Wexford

University: Yale University

Other information: Dakota is a senior at Yale where she majors in ecology and evolutionary biology. Cody is a Goldwater Scholar, a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and won the Frances Gordon Brown prize for intellectual distinction, leadership and service. She has several peer reviewed publications and has done research projects in ecology, primate cognition and evolutionary biology. She is a member of the varsity track and field team, where she throws the javelin and runs hurdles—and is in Yale’s top 10 of all time in each discipline. She also volunteers for the Special Olympics and sings a capella.

Rachel M. Myrick

Rachel M. Myrick

North Carolina, 2013

Current place of residence: Charlotte

University: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Other information: Rachel is a senior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she majors in political science and global studies and minors in creative writing. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior, she has written for the undergraduate law journal and extensively for a student magazine. Rachel is also the student body vice president and chair of the student advisory committee to the chancellor. She also designed a cultural enrichment program for children at a domestic violence shelter in Belize.

Kiron Neale

Kiron Neale

Trinidad & Tobago, 2013

Current place of residence: San Fernando

University: University of the West Indies

Current/ recent course: Bachelor of Science  (2012)

Other information: Kiron majored in Geography and Environment & Natural Resource Management, completing his BSc with First Class Honours. Kiron won the Caribbean Academy of Sciences Studentship to present his undergraduate dissertation on alternative fuel sources at the Caribbean Academy of Sciences General Meeting and Conference in November 2012. He currently works as an Associate Professional in the Environmental Policy and Planning Division of the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources. Beyond his academic and personal commitment to the environment, Kiron’s interests  embrace the visual arts, and sport of many kinds; as a track athlete he was the 60m and 300m silver medallist at the University of Alberta Campus games, where he spent a semester on exchange.  Longer term, Kiron wishes to contribute to environmental policy development in the wider Caribbean.

Geoffrey Pascoe

Geoffrey Pascoe

Victoria, 2013

Current place of residence: Victoria

University: Monash University

Current/ recent course: Bachelor of Computer Science (Honours) (2011)/ Bachelor of Mechatronics Engineering and Bachelor of Science

Other information: Geoffrey is currently completing his studies, and does so as a Dean’s Scholar of the Faculty of Engineering. Academically, Geoff’s interests tend toward mobile robotics and he hopes to contribute – at Oxford and perhaps beyond – to transformative changes in technology in the field of transportation.  Alongside his studies, Geoff has indulged his other passion, politics, serving both as President of the Monash University Liberal Club and a member of the Executive Committee of the Young Liberal Movement of Victoria. As a change from robotics and politics, Geoff umpires for the Victorian Football League Senior Squad. Whilst Geoff is unclear of the exact path his future career will take, he is clear that he will be working on ideas and technologies that impact people’s lives for good.

Laura Pittman

Laura Pittman

Newfoundland, 2013

Current place of residence: St John’s

University: Memorial University of Newfoundland

Current/ recent course: Bachelor of Engineering

Other information: Laura is the final year of her Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering. Whilst on campus, she has served as Vice President of the Engineering Students’ Society, Director of Languages and Volunteers for the Canadian Federation of Engineering Student 2011 Congress, and as a participant on the Atlantic Council of Engineering Students. She was chosen to represent the university as one of twenty-five Memorial Ambassadors. Laura has also been closely involved in a programme to introduce school girls to engineering. Following these community projects and in addition to highly successful research and employment placements, she was awarded the Canadian Association for Co-operative Education Student of the Year Prize for 2011. Laura is a High School volleyball coach, and plays volleyball and football. She plays the piano and violin, and dances. Longer term, Laura hopes to combine her interests in biomechanics with socially responsible business enterprise.

Kameel Premhid

Kameel Premhid

KwaZulu-Natal, 2013

Current place of residence: Durban

University: University of KwaZulu-Natal

Current/ recent course: Bachelor of Arts in Legal Studies and Political Science (2010) / Bachelor of Laws (LLB)

Other information: Kameel’s twin passions are politics and law, with particular focus on the relationship between government, civil society, and the international community. An active member of the Democratic Alliance since 2004, Kameel served as Chief Whip for the KZN Youth Parliament (2008-2010), and continues to serve as elected Branch Committee Member for one of the Durban Wards.  A keen debater, Kameel won 2nd Best Individual Speaker at the Pan-African Universities’ Debating Championships in Bulawayo, 2011; was invited to serve as an Independent Judge in the 2012 World Universities’ Debating Championships and has a long history of coaching young people in KwaZulu-Natal Schools’ Debating Association.

Daniel A. Price

Daniel A. Price

California – North, 2013

Current place of residence: Grass Valley

University: University of California, Berkeley

Other information: Daniel is a senior at the University of California, Berkeley, where he will graduate with two B.S. degrees, one in bioengineering, and one in electrical engineering and computer sciences. He also has a major in physics. He has done research in medical robotics at Johns Hopkins, and at Berkeley to develop a new imaging modality known as magnetic particle imaging. He aspires to a career applying his interests in medical devices and medical robotics to address global health care needs.

Vinesh Rajpaul

Vinesh Rajpaul

South African College School, Newlands, 2013

Current place of residence: Cape Town

University: University of Cape Town

Current/ recent course: Bachelor of Science in Physics & Applied Mathematics (2009) / Bachelor of Science in Applied Mathematics (Honours) (2010) / Master of Science in Astrophysics

Other information: Vinesh completed his BA at UCT with First Class Honours and is now working on a research-based Master’s in Astrophysics, with a focus on exoplanetary science.  He has already authored a number of peer-reviewed publications in this area. He is passionate about improving educational opportunities for young people in Southern Africa and in 2010 he raised funds to establish a merit scholarship for students from poor backgrounds, to encourage and recognise hard work and academic excellence, and has volunteered for the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town since 2006.  For light relief, Vinesh enjoys language (French), literature and music (piano), “dabbles” in art and photography (with international recognition), and enjoys a number of outdoor activities, including running, cycling and hiking. Beyond Oxford, Vinesh would like to establish an exoplanet research group in South Africa and hopes to contribute, longer-term, to the development of education policy in South Africa.

Joseph W. Riley

Joseph W. Riley

Tennessee, 2013

Current place of residence: Athens

University: University of Virginia

Other information: Joseph is a senior at the University of Virginia where he majors in Chinese, and is in the honors program in government and foreign affairs. A Truman Scholar, and a Jefferson Scholar, Joe is ranked the number one Army cadet in the national ROTC. He is coauthoring a book on Sino-American relations and has done field research on Chinese mineral extraction industries in Africa. He has attended 101st Airborne Division Air Assault school, and Army Airborne Infantry school, and founded an organization to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Fund and to help bridge the civil military divide.

Mubeen A. Shakir

Mubeen A. Shakir

Oklahoma, 2013

Current place of residence: Oklahoma City

University: University of Oklahoma

Other information: Mubeen is a senior at the University of Oklahoma where he majors in biochemistry. Dedicated to a career in medicine, particularly oncology, he has interned at Columbia University and at the University of Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation and in its departments of pediatrics and urology. He has also worked in a program for entrepreneurs where he is developing an iPod application to detect concussions in collision sports. Mubeen also co-founded an education program for underprivileged youth in Oklahoma and tutors for children and teens in the Oklahoma Muslim community, and is an opinion columnist for the student newspaper.

David Sherwood

David Sherwood

Western Australia, 2013

Current place of residence: Perth

University: University of Western Australia

Current/ recent course: Bachelor of Science (2011)/ Bachelor of Science in Chemistry (Honours)

Other information: Dave is currently completing his degree in chemistry.  Whilst at UWA, he won research placements at Monash University and the Paul Scherrer Institut, Switzerland; and won the Fogarty Foundation Scholarship.  He has remained closely involved with the Foundation’s on-going programmes to provide tutoring for disadvantaged high school students. Profoundly influenced by what he saw of unequal access to high quality education, in 2011 Dave established a not-for-profit company to organise tutoring for over 500 primary school students at 11 remote schools. For relaxation, Dave plays competitive sport – soccer, netball, badminton –  and enjoys camping and water sports. Longer-term Dave hopes to contribute to broad educational reform, ensuring that an individual’s life prospects are not restricted by their place of birth.

Edward Stace

Edward Stace

New Zealand, 2013

Current place of residence: Dunedin

University: University of Otago

Current/ recent course: Bachelor of Medical Science (Honours) (2009)/ Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery

Other information: Edward will complete his medical studies in the coming year. During the course of his medical degree, he took a year out to undertake research on Bone Banking, graduating BMedSc with First Class Honours.  A keen sportsman, he was invited to join the New Zealand Rowing Squad but declined in favour of his studies.  Instead, he joined the Territorial Army where he was promoted, this year, to Lieutenant. He continues his sporting involvement, hiking, running and playing rugby; this year he won first place in the Army’s Twin Peaks Battle Tab.  Alongside competitive sport, he is a jazz trumpeter.  He hopes to continue medical research at Oxford and, longer-term, he envisages a career in medicine, with the aim of influencing national approaches to preventative medicine and public health.

Evan R. Szablowski

Evan R. Szablowski

California – South, 2013

Current place of residence: Bakersfield

University: United States Military Academy

Other information: Evan is a senior at the United States Military Academy where he majors in mathematics. He has also studied at Al-Akhawayn University in Morocco, and worked on projects encouraging entrepreneurship in Ethiopia, and on emerging markets in the Czech Republic. Evan is also a triathlete, conducts a West Point choir, and was a member of the first American team ever to win the Sandhurst military competition.

Helen Taylor

Helen Taylor

Paul Roos Gymnasium, Stellenbosch, 2013

Current place of residence: Stellenbosch

University: Stellenbosch University

Current/ recent course: Bachelor of Arts in Law (2009) / Bachelor of Arts in English (Honours) (2011); Bachelor of Laws (LLB)

Other information: Helen graduated Cum Laude in Law and in English (Honours) and is now completing her LLB. At Stellenbosch, Hockey has taken a back seat in favour of her studies and of her interest in music. An accomplished pianist and violinist, she also teaches the violin and performs in a professional music group based in Cape Town, Camerata Tinta Barocca.  Earlier this year, Helen attended a Summer School at King’s College, London, exposing her to the internal workings of the Royal Courts of Justice and the Old Bailey. This experience has confirmed her longer-term aspirations to become an advocate or a judge. Helen is keenly interested in the place of justice in law, particularly in the field of human rights law.

Jacob Taylor

Jacob Taylor

New South Wales, 2013

Current place of residence: Sydney

University: The University of Sydney

Current/ recent course: Bachelor of Arts in Languages with combined Honours in Social Anthropology and Chinese Studies (2010)

Other information:  Jacob’s interest in how culture takes hold of our bodies and minds has led him towards a keen interest in the emerging field of neuroanthropology.  Having completed his degree in 2010, Jacob has combined meanwhile his interests in rugby and China as a member of the Partnership Development Team of the Australia-China Youth Dialogue, and as the China Consultant and Liaison for the Australian Rugby Union.  Alongside his career as Vice-Captain of the national Rugby Sevens team, Jacob has established the Engaging China Project which seeks to promote the study of the Chinese language in Australian schools.  Longer-term, Jacob hopes to contribute to the growing body of knowledge in neuroanthropology, before seeking to influence more broadly the incorporation of empathic knowledge into the way we educate, govern, and do business worldwide.

Vincent F. Taylor

Vincent F. Taylor

Jamaica, 2013

Current place of residence: Kingston

University: University of the West Indies

Current/ recent course: Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Electronics (2011) / Master of Philosophy in Computer Science

Other information: Vincent completed his BSc with First Class Honours and is currently researching the scope of wireless sensor network security. He has used his talents in electronics to assist in the design and development of websites for charities such as the I Believe Initiative. He combines this with a passion for amateur radio as a webmaster of the Jamaica Amateur Radio Association. Vincent also represents the Department of Computing on the Faculty of Science and Technology Graduate Students’ Social Events Committee, and has won the Professor Sir Kenneth Hall Award for Excellence in Philanthropy for his extra-curricular activities. During his leisure time, he enjoys middle-distance running and weightlifting, and amateur astronomy.  Long-term Vincent envisages contributing to technological advancement in developing countries.

Joseph W. Thiel

Joseph W. Thiel

Idaho, 2013

Current place of residence: Boise

University: Montana State University

Other information: Joseph is a senior at Montana State University where he majors in chemical engineering; he will also get a B.A. in liberal studies, with a focus on politics, philosophy and economics. He is the only student representative on the Board of Regents of the Montana University System. Joe was the vice president of Engineers Without Borders at Montana State and served as a student senator. He has done summer work related to the storage of spent nuclear fuel and in biofilms engineering. He is keenly interested in international development and worked in western Kenya on an engineering project to provide water to rural primary schools.

Maka B Tounkara

Maka B Tounkara

Zambia, 2013

Current place of residence: Lusaka

University: University of Zambia

Current / recent course: Bachelor of Arts in Economics (2012)

Other information: Maka won the Citi Bank Scholarship for best overall final year student in economics, and graduated this year with Distinction. During the course of his degree he served as Vice President of the University of Zambia (UNZ) Business and Economics Association and was elected Business and Finance Chairperson for the Council of Hall Representatives. Maka also contributed to a scheme to raise awareness and understanding of HIV within the University community. By way of recreation, Maka is a keen football player. Maka is working currently as an Intern in the Budget Office of the Ministry of Finance and as a Staff Development Fellow in the economics department at UNZ.  Longer term, Maka envisages a career as an academic engaged in policy work.

Andrew Trotter

Andrew Trotter

Queensland, 2013

Current place of residence: Brisbane, Australia

University: Queensland University of Technology / Australian National University

Current/ recent course: Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Laws (2011) / Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (2012)

Other information: Andrew completed his BA with Distinction and LLB with First Class Honours in 2011.  Whilst at QUT, he was awarded the Golden Key Asia-Pacific Outstanding Achievement Academic Award (2010), the Tom Cain Trophy for Outstanding  Achievement (2011) (Best Mooter) and the Tom Cain Trophy for Outstanding Achievement (2011).  Apart from academic study and debating, Andrew played cricket, acquired fluency in French and Japanese, conversational Spanish and a useful level of Mandarin. Having completed the GLDP at ANU earlier this year, Andrew is now working as Associate to the Hon Justice Atkinson at the Supreme Court of Queensland.  Beyond Oxford, Andrew hopes practice at the Australian bar, whilst continuing to engage in research and law reform to improve the quality of criminal and human rights law.

Katie D. Whitcombe

Katie D. Whitcombe

Arizona, 2013

Current place of residence: Mesa

University: United States Naval Academy

Other information: Katie is a senior at the United States Naval Academy where she majors in Chinese. She is tied for first is her class in academic order of merit, and is in the top 2% in overall order of merit, and is Brigade Character Development Officer. Katie’s primary interests lie in working with the peoples of the western and southwestern Pacific. She is on the varsity track and field team where she sprints and hurdles. She also plays the flute and is a dancer. She co-founded Operation Wounded Warrior on her campus, and volunteered last summer in the Philippines to work with girls victimized by human trafficking.

Georgianna H. Whiteley

Georgianna H. Whiteley

Minnesota, 2013

Current place of residence: Wayzata

University: Luther College

Other information: Georgianna is a senior at Luther College where she majors in chemistry and minors in biology. Annie has done research on Maasai traditional medicine and the distillation of plant oils for that community’s economic development. She has also worked on projects at the nanoscience and nanotechnology institute at the University of Iowa. She is active as a youth mentor, and in Habitat for Humanity and other community projects. She is a varsity tennis player.

Benjamin B.H. Wilcox

Benjamin B.H. Wilcox

Illinois, 2013

Current place of residence: Winnetka

University: Harvard University

Other information: Benjamin is a senior at Harvard majoring in history, with a focus on Latin America and the United States. Elected to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior, he has done policy and community work with a Brazilian NGO, and his senior thesis relates to race and Brazilian history. Ben is also president of the Harvard-Radcliffe chorus, active in the international relations community, and has written for the Harvard Crimson and the Harvard Political Review. A cyclist, Ben has also logged 10,000 miles pedaling across North America and Europe.

Rachel M. Woodlee

Rachel M. Woodlee

South Carolina, 2013

Current place of residence: Greer

University: Wofford College

Other information: Rachel is a senior at Wofford College where she majors in business economics and Chinese language and culture. Rachel is fluent in Mandarin, and a junior member of Phi Beta Kappa. She is captain of Wofford’s Division I volleyball team. She has traveled in several regions of China, lived with a family in Tibet, and has also studied in Peru and India.

Nina M. Yancy

Nina M. Yancy

Texas, 2013

Current place of residence: DeSoto

University: Harvard University

Other information: Nina is a senior at Harvard majoring in social studies. Nina has interned in the British House of Commons, for CNN, and for the Center for American Political Studies. She has been a teacher and director of Citystep, an organization that provides dance instruction to low income youth, and worked with developmentally challenged youth in Peru. She is also a member of the Harvard Ballet Company and a choreographer for the Expressions Dance Company. While in high school, her family lost their home in Hurricane Katrina. Nina was recently chosen to be the first class marshal of her graduating class.

Phillip Z. Yao

Phillip Z. Yao

New Jersey, 2013

Current place of residence: North Caldwell

University: Harvard University

Other information: Phillip is a senior at Harvard where he majors in physics and minors in philosophy. Phil is passionate about expanding access to education and technology and has mentored in New York City’s Prep for Prep program, worked in the New York City Mayor’s office on a new computer science curriculum, and founded a virtual library that will reach over a million students in India with Pratham while on a summer fellowship. Phil was chair of education policy on the Harvard Undergraduate Council for two years, and continues to contribute to its education committee. He is also for a third year on the University’s educational policy committee, which comprises deans and department chairs, with oversight on undergraduate educational policy. Phil is also a pianist and a poet.

Daniel W. Young

Daniel W. Young

Virginia, 2013

Current place of residence: Charlottesville

University: Cornell University

Other information: Daniel is a senior at Cornell majoring in philosophy and minoring in South Asian studies. He spent last spring semester in Nepal conducting research for his senior thesis on the social activism on Dalit (“untouchable”) castes. His work in philosophy is focused on the intersection of normative ethics and political theory. Daniel is active in the Cornell prison education program, offering liberal arts courses to men in maximum and medium security prisons. He is also active in Cornell’s outdoor education program and sings with the Cornell glee club.

Qili (Cherry) Xu

Qili (Cherry) Xu

Hong Kong, 2013

Current place of residence: Hong Kong

University: The University of Hong Kong

Current/ recent course: Bachelor of Laws (LLB) (2012) / Postgraduate Certificate in Laws (PCLL)

Other information: Cherry completed her LLB with First Class Honours, graduating first in her year, and will complete the PCLL this year. She is a senior editor of the Hong Kong Journal of Legal Studies, and represented her university in the 2012 Philip C Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. Following participation in a voluntary programme at the Thai / Myanmar border, Cherry leads a media project to help raise awareness for legal and political activism in the area. For light relief, she enjoys literature, music, photography, and drawing. Her passion for law is borne of a keen sense of justice, and she hopes to develop this in the future as a barrister in Hong Kong and China.

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“I, Pencil,” updated and animated — and not so offensive as I expected

November 23, 2012

Every economics teacher knows that old Leonard Read piece, “I, Pencil.”   It’s a good, practical demonstration of the concept of Adam Smith’sinvisible hand,” free markets, and the way economies put stuff together for sale without a government agency issuing instructions, written by Read in 1958, for the Foundation for Economic Education, a once-free-market economic think tank that recently made an unexpected (by me) lurch to the radical right.

The essay is dated, though, for high school kids today.  Most of the stuff Read properly assumed people knew something about, is left out of modern curricula in elementary and middle school, so a high school teacher must do remedial work in mining, international trade, lumbering, manufacturing, chemistry and metallurgy, just to make the thing make sense.  Where we used to learn about pencils in first or second grade, my students in recent years labor under the misconception that pencil leads are made out of lead, and I have to explain to them that graphite is a form of carbon.  They don’t know cedar from pine, or mahogany, they don’t know copper from tin from zinc from steel, and they think rubber has always been synthetic.

Imagine my surprise on this:  I got an e-mail touting an animated, YouTube update of Read’s essay. It’s not bad, even though it’s from the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is neither competitive, nor an institute, but is instead a propaganda arm of crazy right-wing wackoes.

Whoever made this film appears not to have had much interference from the CEI poobahs.

Am I missing something? Is this film more right-wing than I see?

I worry that I missed something, or that the producers of this movie wove a spell over the usual radical near-fascist groups.  This movie has been touted in recent days by almost all of the usual crypto-black-shirt think puddles, American Enterprise Institute, the unreasoning Reason magazine from the so-called libertarian view, the cartoonish Glen Beck effluent pipe The Blaze, the Coors family’s Heritage Foundation, the offensively-named Lexicans, the biased Cafe Hayek (which is often a good read anyway, so long as you don’t take them seriously on any science issue),  the sanctuary for authoritarian-leaning victims of lobotomy Hot Air, and even that publication from the propaganda organization, The Daily Capitalist — in short, it’s been plugged by organizations covering the entire political spectrum from Y to Z, the far right end of the alphabet.

Maybe they didn’t watch it? 

For today’s teenagers, someone should do a couple of updates.  “I, SmartPhone” and “I, Tablet Computer” could include lessons in government regulation of radio spectrum and how such regulation allows public safety functions and air traffic control to exist alongside great profit-seeking groups, and how such developments would be impossible without government regulation. There would also be a section on the mining and milling of rare Earths, of ores like Coltan, which would introduce the concept of blood or conflict diamonds and ores, the collapse of order in unregulated areas like Congo and Somalia, slave labor as in Pakistan and China.  “I, Fast Food Breakfast” could include side lessons in importing of orange juice from Brazil and other nations, artificially-flavored syrups from China and the threat from climate change to U.S. maple tree farmers, and meat from Australia and Argentina, along with the ideas of food safety regulation on eggs and egg products by USDA and FDA.  “I, Burrito” could include lessons in cultural diffusion and migrant farm workers who pick the tomatoes . . .

By the way, the fact that pencil leads are graphite (and clay), and not lead, should not be taken to mean that pencil manufacturers came up with a kid-safe product on their own; lead in the paint on pencils was enough to worry the health officials, until regulation got different paints used.

We need a classroom guide on Read’s piece and this new movie that seriously discusses the need for regulation in pencil manufacture, from the safety of the saws used to cut the trees, and in the mills, to the anti-child labor provisions of the graphite and rubber import agreements, to the forest regulation and research necessary to keep the incense cedar wood in production, through the anti-deforestation requirements on rubber plantations and the regulation of lead in the paint.  The movie is good, much less right-wing than those groups who fawn over it, but still in need of some real-world economic reality.

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Happy Origin of Species Day! (November 24)

November 23, 2012

Tomorrow, November 24, 2012, marks the 153rd anniversary of a day that quietly changed all of science, should have changed much of theology, and brought much of the world into the future, though many people don’t know it yet.

It’s a Saturday this year — so let’s be a day early, to get informed and involved the people who don’t check their calendars on the weekends.

On November 24, 1859, Charles Darwin’s book was published, On the Origin of Species.

Title page, 1859 edition of Darwin's Origin of Species - University of Sydney/Wikimedia image

Title page, 1859 edition of Darwin’s Origin of Species – image from the University of Sydney via Wikimedia image

How to celebrate?  You could read a summary of Ernst Mayr’s shorthand version of Darwin’s theory, and understand it really for the first time  (I hope not the first time, but there are a lot of people who really don’t understand what Darwin said — especially among critics of evolution):

Darwin’s theory of evolution is based on key facts and the inferences drawn from them, which biologist Ernst Mayr summarised as follows:[3]

  • Every species is fertile enough that if all offspring survived to reproduce the population would grow (fact).
  • Despite periodic fluctuations, populations remain roughly the same size (fact).
  • Resources such as food are limited and are relatively stable over time (fact).
  • A struggle for survival ensues (inference).
  • Individuals in a population vary significantly from one another (fact).
  • Much of this variation is inheritable (fact).
  • Individuals less suited to the environment are less likely to survive and less likely to reproduce; individuals more suited to the environment are more likely to survive and more likely to reproduce and leave their inheritable traits to future generations, which produces the process of natural selection (inference).
  • This slowly effected process results in populations changing to adapt to their environments, and ultimately, these variations accumulate over time to form new species (inference).
Darwin's original sketch of a "tree of life," from Darwin's journals

Charles Darwin’s 1837 sketch, his first diagram of an evolutionary tree from his First Notebook on Transmutation of Species (1837) on view at the the Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. Interpretation of handwriting: “I think case must be that one generation should have as many living as now. To do this and to have as many species in same genus (as is) requires extinction . Thus between A + B the immense gap of relation. C + B the finest gradation. B+D rather greater distinction. Thus genera would be formed. Bearing relation” (next page begins) “to ancient types with several extinct forms.”  Wikimedia image

This is mostly an encore post — hey, it’s a history blog — with tips of the old scrub brush justified to Larry Moran and P. Z. Myers, and especially Eugenie Scott and the National Center for Science Education.

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Again: Thomas Nast’s “Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving”

November 22, 2012

November 1869, in the first year of the Grant administration — and Nast put aside his own prejudices enough to invite the Irish guy to dinner, along with many others.

(Click for a larger image — it’s well worth it.)

Thomas Nast's "Uncle Sam's Thanksgiving," 1869 - Ohio State University's cartoon collection

Thomas Nast’s “Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving,” 1869 – Ohio State University’s cartoon collection, and HarpWeek

As described at the Ohio State site:

 “Uncle Sam’s Thanksgiving Dinner” marks the highpoint of Nast’s Reconstruction-era idealism. By November 1869 the Fourteenth Amendment, which secures equal rights and citizenship to all Americans, was ratified. Congress had sent the Fifteenth Amendment, which forbade racial discrimination in voting rights, to the states and its ratification appeared certain. Although the Republican Party had absorbed a strong nativist element in the 1850s, its commitment to equality seemed to overshadow lingering nativism, a policy of protecting the interests of indigenous residents against immigrants. Two national symbols, Uncle Sam and Columbia, host all the peoples of the world who have been attracted to the United States by its promise of self-government and democracy. Germans, African Americans, Chinese, Native Americans, Germans, French, Spaniards: “Come one, come all,” Nast cheers at the lower left corner.

One of my Chinese students identified the Oriental woman as Japanese, saying it was “obvious.”  The figure at the farthest right is a slightly cleaned-up version of the near-ape portrayal Nast typically gave Irishmen.

If Nast could put aside his biases to celebrate the potential of unbiased immigration to the U.S. and the society that emerges, maybe we can, too.

Hope your day is good; hope you have good company and good cheer, turkey or not.  Happy Thanksgiving.

More:  Earlier posts from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub


Thanksgiving 2012 – Fly your flag today!

November 22, 2012

Fly  your flag on Thanksgiving — it’s one of about a score of dates Congress designated specially to fly the flag, in the U.S. flag code.

Americans load up this particular holiday with significance, often for no particular reason.  As a holiday, it is really rather uniquely American.  There were feasts of thanksgiving from time to time throughout recorded history, but most often they were one-shot affairs, after a particular event.

In America, Americans eagerly seized on the idea of one day set aside “to give thanks,” both with the religious overtones some wanted to see, and with the commercial overtones others wanted, especially during the Great Depression.  In our 236th year since the Declaration of Independence, the 223rd year since the Constitution was enacted, we come to Thanksgiving as a major period of travel to old family homesteads, to Thanksgiving as a period of genuine thanks to American troops fighting in foreign lands half a world away, and as a commercial celebration that sucks the sobriety and spirituality out of all but the most dedicated of profiteers, or bargain hunters.

Vintage Thanksgiving greeting card, from HubPages

In the early 20th century, some people sent greeting cards for Thanksgiving; this is a tradition overtaken by Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years cards, today. (Image from HubPages, unknown year — credit for cards, “Images courtesy VintageHolidayCrafts.com

Thanksgiving often stumbled into controversy.  George Washington issued proclamations calling for a day of thanks, but struck out all references to Christianity.  Some president’s issued similar proclamations up to the Civil War, When Abraham Lincoln used the holiday as a time to remind  Americans that they had a lot to be thankful for, partly as a means to keep Americans focused on the war to be won, and keep supporting troops in the field.  During the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt juggled dates for Thanksgiving, moving it earlier in November to create a longer Christmas shopping season, hoping to stimulate sales, and thereby push America further out of the Depression.

In 2001 George W. Bush urged Americans to go shopping so terrorists would know America was not defeated by the attack on the World Trade Center, knowing that a stimulus to the economy would help garner support for other policies.

Vintage thanksgiving card, Boy riding turkey with American flag, from HubPages, original date unknown

Children riding large turkeys, waving American flags, made popular images in several years of the early 20th century.

2012 saw controversy over Big Box stores and other major, national retailers pushing their post- Thanksgiving, Christmas sales, into Thanksgiving day itself.  Is this fair to employees?  Is this too much emphasis on purchasing, and too little emphasis on family and giving thanks?

You can be sure of one thing:  It’s probably safe to fly your American flag on Thanksgiving, as Congress suggested.  It won’t make your turkey more moist  or your pumpkin pie taste any better.  It won’t boost your sales, if you’re a retailer, nor find you a bargain, if you’re a shopper.

If you have the flag, it costs nothing.  Flying the flag makes no particular religious statement, supports no particular political party, supports no one’s favorite football team.  Flying the flag earns you nothing, usually.

But as a free act of patriotism, support for our nation, and our troops, and a demonstration that even after a divisive election, we’re all one nation, it’s a pretty good deal.

Fly your flag today.

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